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Date published: March 20, 2020

What’s in an application?—SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships

Note: Your application cannot be submitted without all supporting documentation.

Applicants requiring assistance while preparing their application are encouraged to communicate with SSHRC’s Research Training Portfolio well in advance of the application deadline.

A completed application should address all evaluation criteria presented in the funding opportunity description.

The SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships "Application Profile" section consists of the following subsections:

  • Application title;
  • Preferred adjudication committee;
  • Supplement (if applicable);
  • Joint or special initiatives (if applicable);
  • Does your proposal involve Indigenous research as defined by SSHRC?;
  • Do you hold a teaching appointment? (see section 3, Non-Tenure Appointment Letter, if applicable); and
  • Applicant (applicant information listed here is shared with the SSHRC online CV discussed below, although a different affiliation can be entered here if necessary).

Complete the online SSHRC CV and ensure that all information is accurate and up to date.

If you hold a teaching appointment of any kind, you must upload to your application a letter from a university official confirming that you do not hold a tenure or tenure-track position (i.e., a permanent faculty position, or a faculty position leading to permanency). A scanned copy of your contract will also be accepted.

Note: Teaching appointment letters and contracts are not shared with the selection committee.

You must upload a copy of your program of work to your application. Your application will be reviewed by members of a multidisciplinary selection committee, not all of whom will be familiar with your area of research. Avoid discipline-specific jargon, acronyms and highly technical terms.

You must also ensure that your program of work includes the following:

  • State the title and subject of your doctoral thesis and discuss the relationship of your doctoral thesis to your proposed research. If the two areas of research are closely related, explain how your proposed research will develop or expand your thesis. If the areas of research are not related, describe your proposed area of research.
  • Outline your plans for achieving your research objectives. Clearly describe your theoretical approach, your methodology, and how your proposed research will contribute to the advancement of knowledge.
  • Justify your choice of the proposed university or research institution based on the purpose of the fellowship and its related activities.
  • If applicable, indicate any other organizations with which you will be affiliated, and provide a justification for this choice. You must clearly identify your primary place of affiliation, and outline how your work at the secondary location(s) of tenure will intersect with and enhance your research at the primary location of tenure.
  • If your proposed research overlaps with areas funded by other granting agencies, justify your submission of this proposal to SSHRC (rather than to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research or the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council), based on the General Guidelines for the Eligibility of Subject Matter at SSHRC. If in doubt about the eligibility of your proposed research, consult SSHRC’s Research Training Portfolio prior to the submission of your application.
  • If your proposal involves Indigenous research, please refer to the "Does your proposal involve Indigenous research as defined by SSHRC?" section of the instructions before preparing your program of work.
  • If your project uses a research-creation approach, indicate clearly the research component of your proposed work. Outline the objectives of your research and its context, methodology and contribution to the advancement of knowledge. Make sure your proposal follows the Guidelines for Research-Creation Support Materials.
  • Do not use footnotes or endnotes in your program of work. Cite items in the bibliography.

You must provide a bibliography for your proposed program of work. The bibliography should provide details for all references included in your program of work document. Ensure that your bibliographic citations are clear and complete, to allow reviewers to locate the sources easily.

If you are proposing to remain at the same university where you received your PhD, use this space to explain this decision.

Note: If you are proposing to affiliate with a different institution than the one where you received your PhD, it is not necessary to provide a Tenure Location Justification page, and it will not be accepted. It will subsequently be removed from the application and will not be submitted to the committee for review.

One of the two letters of appraisal is an external, arm’s-length assessment and must be completed by an acknowledged specialist in your proposed area of research. The other letter must be completed by someone who can comment on your past and potential contribution to research (normally, your PhD supervisor).

In both letters, referees must assess and comment on the following:

Applicant’s track record

  • past and potential contributions to scholarly research; and
  • importance to the discipline of the journals in which the applicant has published, and/or the candidate’s prospects for publication.

Applicant’s program of work

  • originality;
  • significance and feasibility;
  • strengths and weaknesses of the proposed program of work;
  • appropriateness of the proposed institutional affiliation; and
  • applicant’s proficiency in the languages necessary to pursue the program of work (if applicable).

Comments should focus on the proposal, its theoretical framework, the relation of the proposal to the field and the methodology.

The Research Appraisal form must be completed by the proposed research supervisor at the institution where you plan to hold your award.

If you propose to affiliate with more than one institution, please ask the supervisor at the primary location of tenure to complete the research appraisal. Research appraisals from supervisors at secondary host institutions are not required and will not be accepted.

If you intend to be supervised by more than one person at the same institution, you must select one supervisor who will be responsible for completing this form.

The research supervisor must describe:

  • how your project relates to the research interests and strengths of the proposed department;
  • how they will serve as a mentor; and
  • what you will be able to offer as a research fellow.

Note: If you intend to be supervised by more than one person, you must select one supervisor who will be responsible for completing this form. You may provide information about the additional supervisor in your program of work.

The Institutional Nomination and Commitment form must be completed by the head of the department or their designate at your proposed institution of affiliation.

If you propose to affiliate with more than one institution, the department head (or designate) at the primary location of tenure should complete the Institutional Nomination and Commitment form. Secondary host institutions do not have to complete this form; only the form from your primary location of tenure will be accepted. If a form from a secondary host institution is provided, it will not be accepted.

Host institutions will be asked to outline how they will support effective research training and career development for the applicant, based on SSHRC’s Guidelines for Effective Research Training.

SSHRC asks its selection committees to take into consideration special circumstances that may have affected candidates’ research, professional career, record of academic or research achievement, or completion of degrees. Relevant circumstances might include administrative responsibilities, maternity/parental leave, child-rearing, illness, disability, cultural or community responsibilities, socio-economic context, or health-related family responsibilities. Please specify the dates for any delays or interruptions.

As part of the Indigenous Talent Measures, Indigenous applicants are encouraged to use the “Allowable Inclusions” section of their application form to describe special circumstances that may have had an impact on their academic or career paths.

Note: Applicants who completed their doctorate between September 2014 and September 2017 must describe in this section the career interruptions or delays experienced since completion of their doctorate.

Applicants who completed their doctorate after September 2017 may also choose to describe relevant career interruptions or delays, should they wish.

You must upload a document listing your research contributions. Provide details, as appropriate, on the contributions you listed, as follows:

  • In the left margin, identify refereed publications with an “R.” A refereed work is assessed:
    • in its entirety—not merely an abstract or extract;
    • before publication; and
    • by appropriately independent, anonymous, qualified experts. (“Independent” in this context means at arm’s length from the author.)
  • Specify your role in co-authored publications.
  • For published contributions, provide complete bibliographic details (including co-authors, title, publisher, journal, volume, date of publication, page numbers, number of pages, etc.) as they appear in the original publication.
  • For publications in languages other than French or English, provide a translation of the title and the name of the publication.

Group your contributions by category in the following order, listing your most recent contributions first:

Refereed contributions

Examples include books (where applicable, subdivide according to those that are single-authored, co-authored and edited works), monographs, book chapters, articles in scholarly refereed journals, conference proceedings, etc.

Other refereed contributions

Examples include papers presented at scholarly meetings or conferences, articles in professional or trade journals, etc.

Non-refereed contributions

Examples include book reviews, published reviews of your work, research reports, policy papers, public lectures, etc.

Forthcoming contributions

Indicate one of the following statuses—“submitted,” “revised and submitted,” “accepted” or “in press.” Provide the name of the journal or book publisher and the number of pages. Contributions not yet submitted should not be listed.

Creative outputs

Applicants whose research outputs include an artistic creation may list their most recent and significant achievements, starting with the most recent, in a separate category: “Creative outputs.” This category may be followed by the categories shown above, as appropriate. Examples of creative outputs may include exhibitions, performances, publications, presentations, film, video, audio recordings, etc.

Note: In the context of Indigenous research and as per the Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research, other contributions can be listed within current or additional categories.

If you wish to be considered for a supplement and/or joint or special initiative, and meet the eligibility criteria, you must select the supplement and/or joint or special initiative from the drop-down menu in the "Application Profile" section of the application form. Please provide a maximum one-page justification, or other required information or form, per supplement and/or joint or special initiative selected, as outlined in the "Supplement Justification" and "Specific Requirements for Joint or Special Initiatives" sections of the instructions. Information on supplements and joint or special initiatives is available on SSHRC's Talent program page.

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